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MBTA officials blame federal agency for preventing them from speaking about fatal Red Line accident

Boston, - 4/12/2022: The operator of an inbound Red Line train watches activity on the platform before departing the Broadway station in Boston, MA on April 12, 2022. A man was killed after he became trapped in the door of a Red Line train as it pulled away from a platform in South Boston early Sunday morning, officials said The man was dragged a short distance by an inbound train at the Broadway T station. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff) Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Why haven’t MBTA officials shared what they know about a Red Line passenger killed earlier this month when he was trapped in a subway car door? On Thursday, agency leaders blamed the National Transportation Safety Board for keeping a lid on the investigation.

“We have been directed by the NTSB not to release any information that is outside of what they have already shared in the public domain,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said at a meeting of the MBTA’s board of directors. “It puts us in a position where we cannot speak I think as transparently as we would like in public until their investigation is concluded and disclosed.”

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That’s true, a NTSB spokesman said by e-mail. The independent federal agency that investigates transportation accidents has asked the MBTA not discuss the matter publicly.

“In this current case, MBTA is a party to the NTSB investigation, and they have agreed to follow the agreement and refer all inquiries to the NTSB,” said spokesman Keith Holloway. “There is no new information available for release at this time.”

A preliminary report by the NTSB may be ready in “the next couple of weeks,” Holloway said.

Robinson Lalin, 39, died April 10 as he exited a Red Line train at Broadway Station in South Boston, the NTSB said earlier this month. Lalin got stuck in the doorway of an inbound train and was dragged a short distance, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.

Scott Darling, an MBTA director who serves on its safety subcommittee, asked Poftak to report on the investigation at a public board meeting when the NTSB concludes its probe.

Earlier this month, transit advocates criticized the subcommittee for not inquiring about Lalin’s death at a public meeting a few days after the incident. At the April 14 subcommittee meeting, members offered condolences to the families of Lalin and Peter Monsini, a construction worker who died when the Government Center Garage partially collapsed last month.

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Poftak said the MBTA would discuss the findings of the NTSB’s investigation and the MBTA’s internal review, as well as measures taken to address safety concerns, once the two probes conclude.

Betsy Taylor, who leads the MBTA Board of Directors, said the panel will “do everything we can” to make sure the agency learns from the investigations and that “safety is maintained and increased.”

“This board will be very aggressive in helping the T support the implementation of safety recommendations that come forward,” she said.

The state’s transportation secretary, Jamey Tesler, also weighed in.

“We will have comprehensive conversation and discussion about those findings when we are authorized to and I think we all are anxious to have that conversation,” said Tesler, who serves on the MBTA board. “But we also recognize that we are obligated to follow the NTSB direction on this matter until they speak to it first.”

The conclusion of the NTSB investigation is likely many months away. In July, the agency opened an investigation into a Green Line crash that injured about two dozen people. That probe remains ongoing.

The board’s investigation into the 2008 death of Green Line operator took 14 months. It took nearly two years for the board to complete its investigation into a 2009 Green Line collision caused by an operator who was sending text messages.

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Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.